Leaving Islam



Dhaka is in disarray in the wake of 8/17 Islamic blitzkrieg  

A.H. Jaffor Ullah  


It has been over 10 ten days that extremists belonging to Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) under the leadership of one Shaikh Abdur Rahman had rocked not only Bangladesh and neighboring nation but also the bulk of EU nations and America .  The State Department had reacted very sharply immediately after the blasts.  However, that was not the case in Dhaka (read: Khaleda Zia Administration).  In essence, the Khaleda Zia Administration is still in disarray vis-à-vis 8/17 blasts.  And it is not without any reason.  If you ask this blunt question to this scribe, “Why is it that the PM was so reticence for the first four days after the blasts?”  My answer would be, “Why?  It is the vote bank, dummy.”  

The Islamists probably wanted to do their blitzkrieg on August 14, 2005.  That would have been most appropriate because many Islamists still think of August 14 as the day Muslims became liberated from the yoke of British Raj.  Nonetheless, they opted for August 17 for logistics, most likely.  The Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Mrs. Khaleda Zia, was in Beijing in an official trip.  

Because of the magnitude of the bomb blasts in Bangladesh on that August day, not only the newspapers inside and outside Bangladesh gave prominence to the news but also foreign governments were alarmed by the synchronicity of the blasts.  Even the Chinese government spoke in vociferous language castigating the perpetrators.  Nevertheless, Bangladesh’s Prime Minister maintained her usual deafening silence.  At the least what she could have done was to sound the alarm bell while she was in Beijing.  But true to her nature, she remained reticent about the whole thing.  Of course, she had to cut short her foreign trip to return home and find the entire nation panic stricken.   

In the absence of Prime Minister, her cabinet ministers were making conflicting statement regarding whodunit.  This was a very confusing situation.  Maulana Nizami, a very powerful minister under KZ Administration, broke the limit of absurdity as he proclaimed 8/17 as the handiwork of two intelligences distanced by few thousand miles.  Nizami, a member of Islamic party that worked against the establishment of Bangladesh as a free country in 1971, was a member of the Fifth Columnist force while back during our liberation war is now a staunch nationalist.  In his infinite wisdom he claimed that India’s RAW and Israel’s MOSAD were behind the blitzkrieg.  Another minister holding the portfolio of navigation told the news media that those blasts were only firecrackers.  The asinine minister failed to see the enormity of the blasts and the unspoken message buried beneath the blasts.  Welcome to asinine world of Bangladesh politics!       

The foreign minister of Bangladesh Mr. Morshed, who has penchant for making anti-Indian remarks, at every opportunity that lands on his lap, is a bit cautious at this time.  He was burnt in the “conflagration” caused by his caustic remarks on 8/21 blasts of 2004.  This time around, he said these blasts were the works of local hoodlums in Bangladesh.  So much for his erudition!  When reporters asked him to give his reaction to Nizami’s asinine remark on 8/17 blitzkrieg, he said, “Jamaat is a coalition partner of the BNP government, so his voice is not BNP’s voice.  The remarks reflect the view of Matiur Rahman Nizami and his party.”  The erudite Foreign Minister was accompanying the Prime Minister on her trip to Beijing.  Impropriety being the hallmark of this government both the PM and Foreign Minister failed to make any comment on 8/17 blitzkrieg.  The first time the most powerful ministers (including the PM) had broken their reticence was on August 21, 2005, which is four long days after the blitzkrieg.  In the fast-paced world where Internet dominates the media, four days are considered too long a period.   

The Industry Minister of Bangladesh, Maulana Matiur Rahman Nizami knows very well that he represents the present government in Dhaka.  Therefore, whatever he says vis-à-vis 8/17 blitzkrieg will be considered an official position.  Still then, he made his outlandish claim when he said the intelligence departments of two foreign nations have caused the blasts in 63 administrative districts out of 64 in this deltaic land inhabited by nearly 145 million mostly impoverished folks.  Maulana Nizami badly needed a reprimand from his boss, the Prime Minister but that won’t happen in Bangladesh.  In any other democracy, the Industry Minister would have been sacked by the PM by now; however, this is Bangladesh where rule, protocol, civility, etc., have no place in government.  In fact, governance receives black eye every day.   

The blitzkrieg of 8/17 did not perturb the equanimity of Bangladesh’s Prime Minister.  She did not even call an emergency meeting after her return from Beijing to Dhaka.  While the news of blitzkrieg sounded alarm bell in New Delhi so much so that the Indian Prime Minister, Dr. Singh, called an emergency cabinet meeting, Mrs. Khaleda Zia and Mr. Morshed greeted the same news with nonchalance.  Why did they downplay such a mind-boggling news?  Perhaps they knew whose work was this.  Lest they cause uproar amongst their vote bank, they decided to remain silent while the rest of the world became fidgety.  

It is appropriate to mention here that when 9/11 terrorist attack took place President Bush was in a primary school thousand miles away from the White House.  Still then, his administration managed to address the nation amidst confusion.  On July 7, 2005, when extremists bombed three underground railway stations and one aboveground bus, the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, was attending the G-7 meeting in Scotland; however, he managed to take time out from the meeting to return to London where he gave a speech to Brits.  The speech was a symbolic one.  He told the Brits that his government would pursue the perpetrators as Mr. Bush said on September 11, 2001.  When Chechen terrorists killed 16 school children in Beslan, Russia, on September 2, 2004, the Russian president, Vladimir Putin immediately visited the town and addressed the nation.  These examples are norm rather than exception.  But what Khaleda Zia did after the blitzkrieg is more of an exception.  

Perhaps the Prime Minister of Bangladesh had other pressing engagements while she was in Beijing.  Her country folks would like to know what those engagements were.  The least she could have done was gave a stern speech against the terrorists from Beijing.   

In summary, the Khaleda Zia Administration decided to remain silent in the first few days of 8/17 blitzkrieg for whatever reasons.  This is not a sign of a sound mind.  It took almost four days before her administration spoke on the subject while her industry minister had a field day telling the media a wild story about how intelligence departments of two countries were instrumental in blasting over 300-400 bombs.  This gross slip of tongue by a fundamentalist minister hardly stirs the PM’s equanimity.  The impropriety shown by the Dhaka Administration in the aftermath of 8/17 blitzkrieg has set a record that would be hard to beat. 

A.H. Jaffor Ullah, a researcher and columnist, writes from New Orleans, USA  








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